Liverpool v Arsenal: Koscielny back from cup final heartbreak
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Laurent Koscielny will start the long journey of putting his FA Cup final heartbreak behind him when he returns from suspension for Arsenal on Sunday.
The France international defender has missed the opening two Premier League games of the campaign after being sent off in the final league fixture of last season against Everton.
His dismissal against the Toffees also saw him ruled out of the FA Cup final victory over Chelsea – as Arsene Wenger’s side lifted the trophy for a record 13th time despite being depleted in defence.
Koscielny has been overlooked throughout pre-season as Wenger needed to give game-time to those who were available for the games against Leicester and Stoke.
But, after losing 1-0 against the latter last weekend, the Arsenal boss is keen to reintroduce his compatriot for Sunday’s trip to Liverpool.
“We lost the game on Saturday because defensively we gave a cheap goal away, and it’s good to have him back,” he said.
“It’s been very hard, because I didn’t even consider him for friendly games, you know, because I had to play some defenders.
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“I think what hurt him a lot was to miss the cup final. He had a reaction in the final game of the season against Everton that was unlucky.
“He’s a very quiet guy and sometimes he can get rushed because he realises, he thinks always he has the speed and the pace to win the tackle; in this case he didn’t.”
Koscielny’s timely return to a defence which has shipped four goals in two Premier League games will be overshadowed if Alexis Sanchez is also reintroduced into the Arsenal side at Anfield.
The Chile forward has not featured this season due to a combination of illness and an abdominal injury.
Reports continue to link Sanchez with a move away from the Emirates Stadium as he has less than a year to run on his contract and with Wenger admitting no progress has been made on the former Barcelona man signing a fresh deal.
But Wenger has no qualms playing Sanchez despite the uncertainty over his future and believes his return can boost his team-mates.
“We are disappointed by our result on Saturday but we are not down,” he said.
“It is the first game we lost since the beginning of April and we feel we should have largely won this game.
“Alexis, when he is in the squad, he can score a goal for you at that is always good for morale.
“He wants to play. Alexis works for hard and is focused to play. I think what is good is our mutual interest is that he does well for us.
“His interest is to do well, on top of that I deeply feel that he loves to be here and he loves the club and he arrives at a stage of 28, 29 and looks at the quality of his contract but I think he deeply loves to be here.
“In a professional job I always think that you have to make sure with your commitment that the guy who pays you gets what he is paying you for.
“Alexis is in that mode and I think he will be until the last day he is here, he will give his best.
“To play them or not, no, I don’t consider their contractual situation to decide who plays and who doesn’t play.”
Arsenal found out their Europa League opponents on Friday, with Red Star Belgrade of Serbia, Belarus outfit BATE Borisov and Cologne of Germany drawn alongside Wenger’s side in Group H.